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More on the Net Worth front...

March 21st, 2007 at 12:20 am

http://www.punny.org

Just came across this today. Check out the last 4 entries.

Quite interesting.

I think ever since I have been an adult they question of net worth and social class fascinates me. IT seems so obvious to me there is such a swirly curvey, fine line between what makes you upper-middle class and lower-class, and lower-middle-class and all that. I like to quantify things and so I look up salary ranges for class and sometimes by salary for the area we are even considered lower class. or lower-middle-class, where I Felt we had settled for a long time, purely based on income. Though through many other factors middle-middle or even upper-middle is more explanatory.

Then I find the people who are so "poor" and whiny are all making six-figures and it just boggles the mind. The $30k cars but can barely afford their rent. No money in the bank, not a dime saved for a rainy day. Yet upper-middle-class on that six-figure salary, for sure. Yet with taxes and daycare a lot of them take home far less than my $70k wage at the end of the day. So since I am in the lowest of low tax brackets with no daycare expenses, where does that put us? I've said a million times we'd bring home less money if dh worked. Guess that put us upper-middle. But in such a high COL Area is a $100k wage upper-middle? Or should it be?

So while many of 2-income families eye our assets and assume we are in debt up to our eyeballs or make quite a wage (neither true) I always wonder where that leaves us. No one is defined by their income. The extreme complexity of the real estate market means that my dh's cousin owns his 4-bedroom 1/2 acre lot here outright since he bought in 1999 with equity from the Bay Area. HE drives a corvette and makes I imagine not much more than $30-$40k/year - no college degree. Lower class by income, extremely upper-middle class by assets and lack of debt. Hmmmmm... IT all just makes that class gap that much more wide and strange. Hard to pinpoint.

Anyway, I found this perspective of wealth (See link) from so many important angles very interesting. Probably how I think in terms of wealth, class, net worth. & I am fascinated to see hot to quantify it all - in future articles to come.

4 Responses to “More on the Net Worth front...”

  1. zetta Says:

    I read an interesting book a few years ago -- I think it was called Class in America that argued that your social class was more a function of lifestyle, career choices, and attitudes rather than income. In fact in couple of cases the supposedly "lower" class is often more wealthy than the next "higher" one. It divided the population into 8 classes -- underclass, lower working, middle working, upper working, lower middle, middle middle, upper middle, out-of-sight rich.

    Example career choices for each would be:
    underclass -- welfare, long term unemployed, or criminal
    lower working -- retail, gardener, unskilled labor
    middle working -- electrician, machinist, skilled labor
    upper working -- small business owner, building contractor
    lower middle -- college-degree clerical, accounting, engineer, teacher
    middle middle -- doctor, lawyer, marketing
    upper middle -- VP, CFO, CEO
    out-of-sight rich -- trust-fund babies like Paris Hilton

    Examples of attitude would be:
    underclass --
    lower working -- spends great deal of time with extended family
    middle working -- pride in ability to make things (woodworking, crafts)
    upper working -- high value on being your own boss
    lower middle -- college education and home ownership is paramount
    middle middle -- brand names very important
    upper middle -- big focus on making and maintaining business contacts
    out-of-sight rich -- working to make money is looked down upon

    I was really shocked -- all the classes seemed to come out one slot lower that I would have considered them to be. There was a quiz that asked things like "which magazines do you subscribe to", "do you have a college education", "do you buy clothes that display the brand (such as Gucci sunglasses)" etc., which you could use to figure out which class you were in. According to the quiz my grandfather who was a school superintendent would be lower middle class (where I would have thought of him as middle middle) and my other grandfather who was a machinist would be middle working (where I would have expected lower middle).

    My dad was a teacher & sports coach before he became a stockbroker. According to the quiz my parents are lower middle class, moving into middle middle class. I would have thought of them as at least middle middle (and moving into upper middle by income.) And of course I can't believe engineering and accounting is considered lower middle class despite the high salaries!

  2. zetta Says:

    I read an interesting book a few years ago -- I think it was called Class in America that argued that your social class was more a function of lifestyle, career choices, and attitudes rather than income. In fact in couple of cases the supposedly "lower" class is often more wealthy than the next "higher" one. It divided the population into 8 classes -- underclass, lower working, middle working, upper working, lower middle, middle middle, upper middle, out-of-sight rich.

    Example career choices for each would be:
    underclass -- long term welfare, chronically unemployed, or criminal
    lower working -- retail, gardener, unskilled labor
    middle working -- electrician, machinist, skilled labor
    upper working -- small business owner, building contractor
    lower middle -- college-degree clerical, accounting, engineer, teacher
    middle middle -- doctor, lawyer, marketing
    upper middle -- VP, CFO, CEO
    out-of-sight rich -- trust-fund babies like Paris Hilton

    Examples of attitude would be:
    underclass -- not much importance in being on-time for work
    lower working -- spends great deal of time with extended family
    middle working -- pride in ability to make things (woodworking, crafts)
    upper working -- high value on being your own boss
    lower middle -- college education and home ownership is paramount
    middle middle -- brand names very important
    upper middle -- big focus on making and maintaining business contacts
    out-of-sight rich -- working to make money is looked down upon

    I was really shocked -- all the classes seemed to come out one slot lower that I would have considered them to be. There was a quiz that asked things like "which magazines do you subscribe to", "do you have a college education", "do you buy clothes that display the brand (such as Gucci sunglasses)" etc., which you could use to figure out which class you were in. According to the quiz my grandfather who was a school superintendent would be lower middle class (where I would have thought of him as middle middle) and my other grandfather who was a machinist would be middle working (where I would have expected lower middle).

    My dad was a teacher & sports coach before he became a stockbroker. According to the quiz my parents are lower middle class, moving into middle middle class. I would have thought of them as at least middle middle (and moving into upper middle by income.) And of course I can't believe engineering and accounting is considered lower middle class despite the high salaries!

  3. zetta Says:

    oops -- double post when I tried to edit.

  4. monkeymama Says:

    I have to read that book - sounds interesting.

    The fact is engineers and accountants are perceived as huge wage earners but are not near on par with lawyers and doctors all the same. Plus since we don't spend as much on our education we are more likely to settle for less work, less stress, lower wage (other factors as well I am sure).

    I do agree though, everything seems bumped down a notch from how I usually think. Usually think doctors as upper-middle and the CFOs/VPs as upper class. The reason probably because the doctors I see around here usually top out between $200k-$500k (a few fabulously rich exceptions). Once you talk CEO/VP you are talking millions a year and insane benefits. My doctor clientele forks over 1/2 their income to the government, their $200k doesn't stretch as far as people would imagine - they live pretty middle class lifestyles. Our thinking is probably hugely skewed by high COL out here. $200k wage would be pretty sweet in the middle of Kansas - could by quite the lifestyle, does not buy much out here. Maybe again the lines are blurred because so many middle-middle classers are living very upscale lifestyles on credit - I am sure that blurs the lines a lot as well. I know a lot of $100k/year families who live more like our well off doctor clients at appearances - thing is the doctors can pay cash for everything and are putting away $50k/year in their retirement. That is a huge difference between those making 1/2 as much supporting a lifestyle in debt with little regard for retirement or savings.

    Interesting!!! Thanks for the book idea though. I think I would enjoy it.

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